So what do those funny-sounding Yiddishe/ Aramaic/Hebrew words associated with a Jewish Wedding really mean? It’s all laid out below for you complete with some all-important insights if you want to be really in the know…
AUFRUF: A short ceremony during the Shabbat (Sabbath) synagogue service that normally takes place on the Saturday morning before the wedding. The groom (and sometimes the bride) are honoured in front of their community. This is often followed by a small party or lunch (any excuse to add some food into a ritual).
ARAMAIC: A semitic language related to Hebrew that is often used as the wording in the ketubah (and a near-unpronouncable dialect that only rabbis seem to be able to enunciate / read).
ASHKENAZI: Jews of Eastern and Central European descent.
BADEKEN: A short but meaningful ceremony where the groom covers the bride’s face with her veil. It occurs just before the actual wedding ceremony and is a custom that derives from the biblical account of Jacob’s first marriage, when he was deceived to marry the heavily veiled Leah instead of Rachel, his intended bride.
The badeken is often emotionally charged as the bride and groom may not have seen each other for 24 hours or longer (as much as 7 days) until this moment.
The Badeken ceremony as seen at Karen & Jeremy’s wedding [image by Earthy Photography]
BENCHERS / BENCHING: A small booklet containing the Jewish blessings for a meal (or a Jewish songbook for dinner – we love singing!)
BIRKAT HAMAZON: Jewish blessings recited after a meal – known in English as Grace after Meals (or a Jewish songbook for after dinner jollity).
CHATAN: Hebrew word for groom or a son-in-law. It comes from the verb meaning to tie, connect or covenant.
CHAZAN: A cantor – often a trained musician – who plays an active role in the ceremony in prayers said as songs (and he more often that not sings better than the rabbi).
CHALLAH: Delicious sweet plaited white bread eaten on Shabbat and at celebrations (a bit like a brioche – absolutely scrumptious toasted with a little butter).
CHUPPAH: The wedding canopy which sits atop four poles that represents the couple’s future home(often mistakenly pronounced as ‘Chopper’ as in the bike , or ‘Chupa [Chups]’ as in the lollipops).
A Jewish Chuppah as seen at Lee Ann & Andre’s’ wedding [image by Gavin Hart Photography]
HA MOTZI: A Jewish blessing recited over bread.
HAVA NAGILA: A traditional Hebrew folk song played at Jewish weddings (it’s become the absolute staple of Jewish wedding bands).